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Capitals' rampaging offense has been unstoppable

Friday, 01.29.2010 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Capitals' rampaging offense has been unstoppable
The Capitals' offense has gone from strong to scary to ridiculous this season. Washington is the only team in the League that has scored more than 200 goals this season. Nobody else has 180.
Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has to feel like he's driving a tank these days with the amount of firepower he has right under his nose every time he stands behind the bench.

"It's nice from my standpoint when you have those kinds of weapons at your disposal," Boudreau said after the Capitals' latest surge, a 5-1 win over Anaheim on Wednesday night.

The Capitals' offense has gone from strong to scary to ridiculous this season.

They have 62 goals in 13 games this month, an average of 4.8 per game. They have 40 goals in their current eight game winning streak. They have 22 goals in the last four games. They have at least one power-play goal in seven-straight games.

Washington is the only team in the League that has scored more than 200 goals this season. Nobody else has 180.

No team has scored at this pace (3.83 goals per game) since 1995-96.

It's insane.

"I'm touching wood all the time, hoping we can continue it," Boudreau said. "Things are going well right now. Four lines are rolling and it's hard to take guys out of the lineup."

"I'm touching wood all the time, hoping we can continue it. Things are going well right now. Four lines are rolling and it's hard to take guys out of the lineup."
-- Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau hit it right when he mentioned the four lines. Normally he's one that likes to break up the monotony of his forward lines by changing them on a regular basis, but the Capitals have played with the exact same combinations for the last 11 games.

They are 10-1 with 57 goals.

Alex Ovechkin is with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble on the top line. Tomas Fleischmann moved from left wing to play center on the second line with Brooks Laich and the streaking Alexander Semin.

Brendan Morrison is between Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera on the third line and David Steckel, Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon makeup the fourth line, or what has truly become the Capitals' energy line.

Every forward has scored at least one goal since Boudreau created these lines.

"I don't know if we're going to say we're pretty sure we're going to win (before every game), but we're feeling confident and we know right now we have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net," Fehr said. "We have different lines coming in waves and it's important for us right now to try to keep that going."

Look no further than their last two games to figure out why this offense is so dangerous.

Washington scored 7 goals and combined for 8 assists in a 7-2 win over the New York Islanders Tuesday, but Ovechkin and Mike Green were each held without a point.

Could you have ever imagined Ovechkin or Green being held pointless in a game like that in years past, or even earlier this season?

No way.

"It's what we need right now," Ovechkin said. "If one guy doesn't play well, a different line steps up and plays good."

Just 24 hours after thrashing the Islanders, the Capitals were back in Washington to play Anaheim. They struck early with an Ovechkin power-play goal just 36 seconds into the game, but they found themselves tied 1-1 after two periods.

Before five minutes had expired in the third, it was 4-1 Washington. Shaone Morrisonn scored his first of the season and Knuble and Semin followed.

Game over.

"We talked about it in the dressing room in between periods, about going after them," Boudreau said. "We said, 'You have a good thing going so let's just take it right to them and see where it leads.' We scored early and I think that was a big relief for the guys on the bench. We knew we hadn't played a lot of real close games lately and this game was like a playoff game for us. Can we play in a close game? Can we get the lead? Can we hold on to the lead? Can we do those things? I thought we did a good job."

Ovechkin has held his own during the Caps' torrid streak, but Semin is the guy everyone is talking about in the District.

He has scored 2 goals in each of the last two games and has 6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points over the last seven games. Semin scored a goal on Long Island the other night that probably only a handful of players in the world could score.

He got the puck at the red line and knifed through a pair of Islanders before kicking the puck back to himself with his left skate. He tried to make a centering pass to Brooks Laich, but the puck ricocheted off Bruno Gervais, came right back to him and then he used his backhand to put the puck past Dwayne Roloson from a wicked angle.

"It was pretty dynamic," Boudreau said. "There's not too many people who can do that. He's got so much skill. I don't know what else to say."

Semin can be flighty, but Boudreau hasn't seen that recently.

"He sure is playing hard," the coach said. "There is not a lot of negative things about Alex Semin that you can say right now. He's on a role like only Ovi has seen since I have been in these parts."

Boudreau can say the same thing about his team.

They are two wins shy of the club record for consecutive victories and they are lapping the field when it comes to scoring goals.

Yeah, we know, it's January and being the best team in the Eastern Conference with 29 games still left to play gets you a whole lot of nothing. But just imagine if the Capitals can keep this up through the spring.

Ridiculous.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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